Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nov30

Yakima County Receives Grant from Open Rivers Fund to Remove the Nelson Dam

Today, Yakima County announced it is the recipient of a $75,000 grant from the Open Rivers Fund, a program of Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), supported by a 50th anniversary grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The funds will assist with the removal of the Nelson Dam, an 8-foot high irrigation diversion dam owned by the City of Yakima on the Naches River.

The Naches is an important salmon bearing river that is the largest tributary of the Yakima River. Sediment has built up for several miles behind Nelson Dam, exacerbating flooding in the area upstream from businesses, homes and roads. Removing Nelson Dam is an essential part of a plan to greatly reduce flood risks and improve public safety during floods.

The Nelson Dam is an 8-foot-high diversion dam that sits just upstream of the city of Yakima on the Naches River in Washington. (Credit: Justin Clifton)

The Nelson Dam is an 8-foot-high diversion dam that sits just upstream of the city of Yakima on the Naches River in Washington. (Credit: Justin Clifton)

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Jul20

Environmental groups request support for Yakima Plan legislation

On July 19, representatives from eight major environmental nonprofits sent the following letter to Washington’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation, urging them to join colleagues already co-sponsoring H.R. 4686, the House version of the Yakima Bill:
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Jul07

Fish Passage Innovations on the Yakima

We’ve blogged about fish passage here in the Yakima Basin before – about how the reservoirs that power our agricultural economy were constructed without passage systems, and the steps the Yakima Plan partners have taken to restore struggling and extirpated species.  Almost a year later, we’ve moved a lot of ground on construction of the $100 million downstream passage facility at Cle Elum Reservoir, but what about upstream passage?  What about the sockeye returning to spawn in the lake?

Cle Elum Dam poses some unique challenges on that front.  At 165-feet high, the dam is too tall and steep to accommodate a traditional fish ladder. The reservoir itself rises and falls throughout the year as the water is tapped for irrigation, another mark against typical ladder systems. The original downstream passage designs incorporated a trap-and-haul facility below the dam, where returning adults would be gathered, moved to a tanker truck, and driven up to the lake.

One new alternative could let the fish move themselves.  It’s called the Whooshh, and its engineers have been working with Yakama Nation Fisheries biologists at Roza Dam all summer, conducting tests to determine its impacts on the health, mortality rates, egg viability and fecundity of spawning salmon.  The Whooshh is a flexible pressurized tube, similar to the type used at drive-up bank windows, capable of transporting fish at speeds of 25 feet per second.  Cle Elum will require a 1100-foot long tube, the largest ever designed by Whooshh Innovations, to span the height of the dam, the length of the spillway, and the seasonal drawdown of the reservoir.

Fish moved via Whooshh expend no energy compared to fish tackling traditional ladders, leaving them with more stored nutrients to put toward egg development.  The Roza Dam trials will help biologists gauge whether the stress of being removed from the water and sped through a tube is more, less or comparable to trap-and-haul techniques.  Until all the numbers are crunched, this is just one possible alternative, but these tests continue to demonstrate the Yakima Plan’s commitment to innovation and best practices!

For more footage of the Roza trials, check out KNDO 23’s piece, or the Department of Ecology’s video.

Apr20

U.S. Senate Passes Yakima Bill!

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From Left to Right: Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Lisa Murkoswki (R-AK). Photo Courtesy of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Yesterday, S. 1694, the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Act Phase III of 2015, was unanimously amended to the Energy Policy Modernization Act.  Today, that energy bill passed out of the Senate by a vote of 85 to 12.

What does that mean for the Yakima Plan?  It puts us one step closer to achieving federal authorization and funding for fish passage, irrigation efficiency and habitat protection projects.  It brings the federal government closer to the bar set by the State of Washington in 2013, and it validates the Plan, yet again, as a model for comprehensive water management.

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Mar22

New white paper outlines a national policy framework for drought and water security

from the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Today, on World Water Day, Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released a white paper to advance the development of a 21st century national framework for addressing drought and water security in the United States.

An unprecedented drought last year and 15 years of drought across the American West have demonstrated the need to rethink U.S. water management in the 21st century. Since 1980, droughts have cost the United States more than $200 billion. The drought last year caused widespread and serious impacts for communities, agriculture, industry and the environment. As drought is predicted to continue in the coming years and as communities throughout the United States face significant water-security challenges, it is a crucial time to evaluate and develop new strategies at the national level.

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Fish. Families. Farms.
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